Can you surf fish with a 7 foot rod?

A boy casting thinking, can you surf fish with a 7 foot rod

A 7ft rod may be all you have in your fishing rod arsenal, for example you may be a beginner and that’s your first purchase. The beach can seem an appealing place to go and try it out. But can you surf fish with a 7ft rod? Will you catch anything?

It’s possible to surf fish with a 7ft rod effectively. It’s best to fish an incoming tide to target holes, gutters and features closer to the shore. A 7ft rod with a medium power rating and fast action is a good choice for fishing with bait and lures. 

Want to make an easy decision about what surf rod to buy?

Click here to read our take on the top rods for surf fishing out there now.

Is a 7ft rod too short for surf fishing?

You should only use a 7ft rod in calmer, cleaner surf conditions where the breaking waves are not too high and will not wash your line and bait around. 

A 7ft rod is going to be too short for most surf conditions, and it will be more difficult to cast further than a longer rod like a 10ft or 12ft rod.

So you’ll need to be selective about when and where you use a 7ft rod on the beach. 

A failed fishing session can lead to de-motivation and feeling deflated. Going the next time might feel like a chore with no reward! So choose wisely. 

Choose the right surf fishing rod for maximum success on the beach!

When you think that some surf rods can reach lengths of 14ft, with a 7ft rod you’re only using a half of that height to try and cast out far and clear over the shore breaks.

A sand spike will help you raise the rod too, and help you clear some of the surf on calmer days. 

A 7ft rod is going to be best used to go after fish closer in to the shore. Species like pompano, whiting, rays and flounder can all be found fairly close to shore. 

You can also try using a spinner if you see signs there are fish feeding on bait shoals closer to the shoreline.

Some tell tale signs to look out for here are birds diving into the water, or lots of splashing in one area of water. 

Looking to use a slightly longer rod? Click here to see if a 10ft rod is good for surf fishing.

Using a 7ft surf rod: how far to cast and good places to target.

If you’ve read my other articles about whether you can fish with shorter rods rather than the longer ones that are conventionally recommended, you may have read about specific areas of the beach to target. 

This is the secret to surf fishing that many people don’t understand. The fish are not just swimming around randomly in the ocean out there, and happen to swim by or small out your bait. Fish use specific features of the ocean bed to take cover, wait for prey and feed on any bait floating past. 

As a beach angler you can use this to your advantage!

If I was fishing from the beach with a 7ft rod, here’s exactly what I would do. 

Go just before low tide

Low tide provides you with so much information about where fish are likely to be located when you are fishing. 

As the water recedes and gets shallower, it reveals the underwater ‘topography’, meaning you can see the structures and shapes that the waves and sand have created as the water moves over the ocean bed. 

Fishing at low tide means you are fishing as the tide is coming back in and you can see exactly how far and where you need to cast with your 7ft rod – which is sometimes only a few feet in front of you!

Look for gutters forming

Gutters are channels in the sand, often between two clear sandbanks that rise like small hills either side of the gutter. 

Sometimes these can be as close as 15-20ft from shore and be full of fish – so a 7ft rod could work well here. 

Gutters provide deep water, and also moving water because the channels help the water from the breaking waves move back out again. 

This moving water from breaking waves picks up the bait and pulls it into the gutter. 

Fish often wait in the middle, deepest part of the gutter, or just on the sloping edges to catch the bait that’s being swept into the gutter. 

Cast your rod in varying locations in and around the gutter for maximum chance of receiving a bite. 


Look for holes or cuts 

Another great feature to target is a ‘hole’. It’s fairly self-explanatory, but a hole is a deeper area of water where the sand dips into a hole, creating a pool. 

You’ll spot these by noticing a change in the color of the water near shore. Darker water indicates deeper water. 

Similar to gutters, fish love these features and wait in the middle, deeper section waiting for bait or small fish to be swept into the hole. 

So if you can spit some holes closer in that you might reach with your 7ft rod, you’ll likely have lots of fun battling fish back to land. 

7ft surf rod power and action

Now, targeting smaller species closer inshore means you don’t need a very heavy power rod. 

Something like a medium or medium-light would be a lot of fun for fighting fish through the surf.

I would also recommend a fast action for the rod, to allow you to see bites and also have decent leverage against the fish. 

Check out our view on the top spinning rods for surf fishing now.

When to avoid using a 7ft rod for surf fishing?

Avoid using a 7ft rod in tougher conditions where the swell and surf is anything over 1 foot or so. 

Rougher conditions make it tougher for short rods to be used in the conventional beach casting sense, where you cast a bait out and let the rod sit until you have a bite. 

You might be able to cast a heavier spinner out into these conditions but getting it very far will be difficult. 

If you have a very shallow beach that very gradually slopes deeper, then it can be tricky to get to the depth or features where fish might be.

Even an 8ft rod might struggle here. Learn how to use an 8ft rod effectively too.

What reel is best for a 7ft surf rod?

Depending on how far you can cast and how much line on the spool you need, I’d opt for a reel between 4000-6000 size. 

If you can, try out the reel with the rod – your local fishing shop might be able to help you with that. 

Gear ratio is an important factor too – this is how many times the spool spins around with one turn of the handle. 

A higher gear ratio should set you up well, particularly if you are spinning with lures or spoon because predatory fish in the surf tend to chase faster-swimming baitfish, so you want your lure to be reeled in faster too. 

The best terminal tackle for your 7ft surf rod

A 7ft rod will have its own recommendations for line class and weight limits printed on the side of the rod blank (shaft).

If you’re using a medium-heavy rod then you can go for the upper weight limits for your rod – I find this helps get a little more distance on your cast with a shorter rod. 

But you might lso choose to go surf fishing with lighter tackle – which can be a lot of fun fighting fish in the shallows.

Weights / sinkers

Go for sinkers that have star shapes, or added features for gripping surfaces, because these will hold your bait in the moving water and make your targeting much more effective.

Surf Fishing Rigs

As with our recommendations for larger rods, you can use similar rugs here for shorter rods. The fishfinder, paternoster, and running sunnier rugs all work great and are easy to buy premade or rig yourself. 

Surf Fishing lures

A 7ft rod is great for spinning lures. Because it’s shorter, it’s not so unwieldy and heavy on the arm.

Spinning lures from the beach can be great fun. If you pick the right spots as mentioned above, and look out for signs of fish activity like disturbed water or birds swooping above you should be in for some bites. 

Metal spoons or heavier surf lures can be used to pull through holes, over sandbanks and through gutters. 

Surf fish species tend to chase faster-moving prey, so get reeling quick!

Is a 7ft rod good for surf fishing? Summary. 

A 7ft rod is a good choice for surf fishing if you are selective about how, where, and when you use it. 

Remember, target fish-friendly spots like holes and gutters. Lures and spoons can be great fun as well as your traditional bait rugs used closer to shore.